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US cautious, but offers to help Pakistan combat militants

Publication Date : 17-02-2014

 

The United States has reminded Pakistan that fighting terrorists and protecting its citizens is its own responsibility, although others could help build its capacity to do so.

The comments, given at a State Department briefing during the weekend, reflect a growing confusion in Washington about Islamabad’s strategy for dealing with terrorism that the US says has become “an existential threat” to the Pakistani state.

The department’s spokesperson, Marie Harf, however, also acknowledged that Pakistan was aware of the threat and of its responsibilities to deal with it.

“We’re still concerned about the terrorist threat in Pakistan, as is the Pakistani government,” Harf said.

“It’s Pakistanis themselves that have been affected the most by terrorism inside Pakistan. And so we’ll keep working with the government on helping them build their capacity to go after these guys,” she added.

“We’ll be a partner with them, certainly, on counter-terrorism, but it’s not up to the US to fix counter-terrorism problems all over the world. So we’ll keep working on it,” she said.

Officials and think-tank experts in Washington watch carefully as Pakistan struggles to devise a strategy to deal with the threat posed by the Taliban. The US media too takes a keen interest in the ongoing talks between the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan and the government.

While reporting the talks, the media pointed out that the people chosen to represent the two sides had no real powers. Neither the Taliban nor the government was under any obligation to implement the suggestions that may or may not come out of these talks.

At the State Department briefing, a journalist mentioned that although the Taliban were holding talks with the Pakistani government, they had not stopped their attacks on civilian or government targets. Instead, the Taliban had increased those attacks, killing scores of people.

Harf agreed with the observation but reminded the journalist that it was primarily Pakistan’s responsibility to deal with this threat and others could only help the Pakistanis.

The spokesperson was asked if US Secretary of State John Kerry, who is visiting China, would also discuss this issue with the Chinese. “I haven’t heard the secretary will be discussing Pakistan in China,” Harf said.

 

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